Judith relaxed on the lounge chair on her rooftop patio. Judith was a young widow who spent most of her time fasting and praying secluded within her home or on her rooftop sanctuary. The city was just waking up and street vendors could be heard below setting up for the day. The city was experiencing the longest drought it had seen in many years. The water supply was very low and customers were few and far between. People were hesitant to venture out much these days, but this morning there was a commotion indicating that trouble was brewing in the city.
Judith furrowed her brows as she listened to the male voices rising from the street. King Uzziah was addressing a group of disgruntled residents who were complaining about the lack of water. He in return swore that he would hand the city over to their nearby enemies in five days. It was obvious tempers were flared and things were getting ugly. Judith sent her maid to take a message to the king inviting him and his advisors to a meeting at her home.
King Uzziah and his advisors accepted Judith’s invitation. She was known for her quiet lifestyle and wisdom. She often provided counsel to the citizens of Bethulia. When her guests settled, she ordered refreshments and sat down, studying the stressful look on their faces. “Surely they know they can’t solve their problems by arguing like they were,” Judith thought as she waited for her maid to set up the refreshment tray in front of the group. As the men helped themselves to the bread, cheese, and dried fruit set before them, Judith took a deep breath and said a silent prayer that the men would hear and accept what she was about to say.
“Gentlemen, I know you may be wondering why I asked you here and I want you to know that I don’t mean to be disrespectful. You are setting a poor example arguing on the street the way you were earlier. First of all, how could you say you will turn us over to the Assyrians? Do you remember what happened to our ancestors when they were in the wilderness? How they kept wanting to return to Egypt instead of enduring a few days in the wilderness? Their journey to the Promised Land was delayed because they grumbled and complained about everything. Instead of arguing and threatening each other, why don’t we start being thankful that God loves us enough to trust us with this trial? I mean look at all that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob went through before they received what was promised to them. God hasn’t tested us with anything that consumes us like He did them. He hasn’t sent a deadly sickness to strike us all down like He did our ancestors in the wilderness. Instead because of our disobedience, He is correcting us.”
The men sat silently for a moment with scowls on their faces as if to say, “Who does she think she is? She cannot tell us what to do.” The king cleared his throat and replied, “She’s right. We are being ungrateful. Judith, you have always shown your wisdom and your love for the Lord. We are desperately in need of rain. Pray for us that the Lord will send rain to fill up our cisterns.”
Judith looked at the men gathered in front of her and shook her head, “Listen to me. I will pray, but there needs to be action taken or we are going to fall into the hands of the Assyrians. What is worse, a few years of drought or many years of persecution at their hands? I have an idea that I think will save us.”
King Uzziah nodded and said, “Do it. Go in peace and may the Lord God go ahead of you and take down our enemies.” The men left Judith to her plan.
This story from the Book of Judith goes on to describe how she prayed to the Lord for guidance and deliverance. She poured out her heart and praised God for all that He had delivered them from and His ability to crush their enemies. Judith’s gratitude led to her success at saving Bethulia from the Assyrians.
My sweet friend Lizzie posted on Facebook not long ago about the lack of Catholic reading material in our local book stores. I remembered reading passages from a Catholic Bible before and thought of the lessons I learned from what I read. Judith is an excellent example for us today. There are many people complaining about the recent elections, the crime rates in our cities, and other injustices we cannot control. Judith admonished the grumblers in her time to start praying and being thankful.
God had placed before us an opportunity to change our world. I challenge you to start taking time to be thankful in every situation. Praise God for giving you something to pray about. Thank Him for the challenges you face and the lessons He is teaching you through your difficulty. Turn to Him for guidance when making decisions. David was favored by God and during the most challenging times in his life, he praised God. The Book of Psalms is full of examples of David’s response to the troubles he faced. God honored David’s heart by sending His son through David’s bloodline. Let’s follow David’s legacy of gratitude and Judith’s determination to set an example of thankfulness.
Remember, praise brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). When King Jehosaphat led the tribe of Judah in praise, God sent His own army to ambush their enemy (2 Chronicles 20). When Paul and Silas praised God while in prison, the Lord sent an earthquake that shook the jail, broke the chains off the prisoners, and opened the doors of the prison. God used their situation to convert the jailers.
I don’t know exactly what God has planned for us, but I do know that He wants us to turn to Him in good times and bad. He wants us to teach our children to praise Him.
Praise God and give thanks in all things.